By BRYANT MATERA and KAT DICKINSON
So you’re back at school, back to your old stomping ground, your old friends, and oh, right, stress. Coming back to school means new classes, more studying, more tests and more to fret over. We’ve all been there. And we’re here to help.
Each week this column is going to offer you a male/female perspective on things affecting college students. You’ve heard enough from your parents and read enough self-help articles and books. But you never seem to hear much from peers. Its mostly people out of the loop who claim to “know” how to deal with the challenges we face. But do they really? After all, they don’t have to fret over a Bio exam, a club meeting, practice, a paper to write, three books to read, parents back home and a significant other to worry about.
We’re college students just like you, which is to say we’re pretty much experts on how to juggle. Sometimes though, we all need an extra little boost here and there, so we are here to give you tried-and-true tips that we use ourselves. Our advice might not help everyone, and we aren’t trained professionals, but you don’t have much to lose by giving it a shot. This week we will touch on stress management.
KD: Do something constructive to keep your mind active. When you take a break from working, don’t completely veg out. Deactivating like that can make it a lot harder to get yourself back on track. I play tons of Boggle to keep me engaged. Do Sudoku or play an instrument—anything that engages your mind.
BAM: I’m going to disagree slightly with Kat here. While being constructive during a break can be helpful for some, some of you may find you just need to get away from using your head for a while. Playing a video game, or just watching TV—doing anything totally mindless can give your mind a break to recharge, allowing you to be more refreshed and attack your tasks with a relieved head.
KD: Stay active. Walking around or hitting the gym not only gives you a change of scenery, but the extra exercise will shoot endorphins all around your body, making you feel better. A physical outlet releases your body’s tension and can be extremely helpful.
BAM: Make a to-do list. For me, there isn’t anything much more rewarding than being able to strike something off my list. It also helps all you forgetful types.
KD: Give yourself set study and break times. For example, tell yourself you’re going to study for 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. Scheduling your time this way gives you a bit of an incentive and helps you work on your discipline. Getting that work out of the way beforehand makes your break all the more rewarding. You’ll feel less stressed because of what you’ve accomplished.
BAM: Talk, or write, it out. I vent to my friends and family all the time, and frankly, even if its whiny, just giving someone my lists of grievances and starting a pity party actually makes me feel better. So revel in your misery and then go get some work done.
KD: Move your room around. Having a change of scenery, even just inside your room, gives you a new perspective on things, and for whatever reason, has always helped me. Before college, I had to change my room at home around at least once a month. Moving things around your room spices it up a bit and keeps your surroundings, and mind, fresh.
BAM: Carry something in your pocket that serves as a sort of lighting rod for stress. I carry a smooth river rock. No matter how hard I squeeze it, I’ll never crush it (and if I do I should probably get that checked out). It gives me something solid to hold on to and help me find my place. You might find that you work better with a paper clip to bend around or a ring to spin on your finger. Not to sound all “new age”, but a lot of times having something to dump all your negative energy into is really relaxing.
KD: Don’t get too comfy. Whenever I get into pj’s and hop into bed with a book, I never seem to get as much done as when I’m at my desk wearing school clothes. Use your resources, like the library, to help you stay focused on studying instead of looking at Facebook when something actually needs to get done.
BAM: Take a breather! Get your feet on the floor so you feel anchored, instead of feeling like a lost balloon. Figure out where you are in the world and ask yourself if what you’re worrying about is actually a present reality, (are you really failing English?) or if you’re just giving yourself an unnecessarily hard time.
Hopefully our list will help you shake all the new semester jitters. Settling back in can be incredibly overwhelming, but remember above all else that you aren’t the only one feeling that way. Chances are your roommate or your friend in the back of Chem class is freaking out about it too. Take a minute and try out what we’ve said here. Modify it as you see fit. Good luck, and have a great semester. We’ll be with you the whole way.